TCHRD Statements

human_rights_dayToday we celebrate the 68th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The rights and freedoms enshrined in the UDHR affirm that we are born free and equal, endowed with inherent rights to freedom of movement, expression, thought, privacy, religion, assembly, and a decent livelihood.

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Michael Brand, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the German Bundestag [DPA]
Michael Brand, Chairman of the Human Rights Committee of the German Bundestag  [Photo: DPA]
The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) condemns the government of People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) oppressive treatment of Michael Brand, a German lawmaker and advocate for human rights.

The PRC’s brazen attempts to censor the German politician drew harsh criticism from international onlookers and provided an example of China’s growing ambition to suppress human rights both at home and internationally.

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Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama of Tibet

Today is the 27th birthday of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the reincarnate of the previous 10th Panchen Lama, one of the most important spiritual leaders of Tibet. On 17 May 1995, three days after His Holiness the Dalai Lama recognized him as the 11th Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his parents disappeared from their home never to be heard or seen again.

Despite various appeals and campaigns from governmental and non-governmental organizations over the years, the Chinese government has not provided any concrete or verifiable evidence to support its claims that the Panchen Lama is living “a normal, happy life and receiving a good cultural education” and that he “does not want to be disturbed”. On 6 September 2015, responding to media queries, Norbu Dhondup, a senior official with the United Front Work Department of Tibet Autonomous Region reiterated these claims but failed to provide any evidence. The failure to provide any credible evidence on the condition and whereabouts of the 11th Panchen Lama makes the Chinese government guilty of the crime of enforced disappearance.

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 A copy of the handwritten appeal letter in Chinese calling for re-investigation of the case, signed by Rinpoche's sister Dolkar Lhamo
A copy of the handwritten appeal letter in Chinese calling for re-investigation of the case, signed by Rinpoche’s sister Dolkar Lhamo

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) has received the tragic news that Chinese prison officials have cremated Tenzin Delek Rinpoche’s body and still have his remains in their custody.

Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was a prominent reincarnate lama and a highly-revered spiritual leader who died in prison while serving life imprisonment for a crime he never committed. He was in his 13th year of imprisonment when he died on 12 July.

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The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) is deeply shocked and saddened by the unexpected death of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche, aged 65 years old, serving a life imprisonment at Chuandong Prison near Chengdu city, capital of Sichuan Province in People’s Republic of China (PRC). The arrest and sentencing of Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and his disciple Lobsang Dhondup demonstrates the Chinese government’s blatant disregard of fundamental human rights for Tibetans and is in violation of both international law and domestic Chinese laws.

There were many problems that took place throughout the legal process for both Rinpoche and Dhondup, from their arbitrary arrests, to their unjust sentencing in Chinese courts and their treatment following their criminal trials. This includes: the arbitrary nature of their arrests; the denial of adequate and fair legal defense for the detainees; the lack of adequate and concrete evidence to support their convictions; the absence of presumption of innocence during their criminal trials; closed and unfair trials; the use of coercive interrogation and torture on the detainees; the denial of visitation rights for the detainees; the denial of the right to be informed for the detainee’s families; arbitrary arrest and sentencing of relatives of the detainees; and, the quick implementation of Dhondup’s execution sentence lessened the chances for Rinpoche to receive a fair retrial.

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Tenzin Delek Rinpoche
Tenzin Delek Rinpoche

Today marks the 13th anniversary of Tulku Tenzin Delek’s arbitrary and unjust arrest on 7 April 2002. His arrest eventually led to life imprisonment. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche is a revered Tibetan Buddhist lama from Lithang, Kardze, Kham, in present-day Sichuan Province. He is known for his campaigns to restore Tibetan culture and religion, social welfare activities and his criticism of repressive Chinese policies in Tibet. On 5 December 2002, Tenzin Delek Rinpoche and his nephew were respectively sentenced to death with two years’ reprieve and death sentence. They were accused of being involved in a series of bomb attacks in Chengdu on 3 April 2003. Lobsang Dhondup was executed but Rinpoche’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment due to pressure from the world community.

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Cover of TCHRD's Special Report on Right to Edication in Tibet
Cover of TCHRD’s Special Report on Right to Education in Tibet

Sixty-six years ago, on 10 December 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a fundamental part of the international human rights system and, along with the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is part of the international bill of human rights. Since 1950, every people and countries across the world have commemorated 10 December as Human Rights Day.

‘Human Rights-365’ is the theme of Human Rights Day this year. ‘Human Rights-365’ recognizes that human rights must be protected and defended every day.

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Tsering Tsomo addresses a protest rally in front the UN to focus attention on the recent self-immolation of Lhamo Tashi.

The director of the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), Ms. Tsering Tsomo, attended the 27th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) at the United Nations in Geneva from 14 to 24 September 2014, to draw the Council’s attention to the pressing human rights issues inside Tibet. On the sidelines of the session, Ms. Tsomo met and briefed various UN Special Procedures mandate holders, diplomats and NGO representatives on the current situation in Tibet and strongly appealed for their support.

In addition to delivering an oral statement (a video of the statement is available here starting at 49:27) on behalf of the Society for Threatened Peoples at the HRC session, Ms. Tsomo held an hour-long briefing for assistants to seven UN Special Procedure mandate holders. On 23 September 2014, Ms. Tsomo met with assistants to Special Rapporteur on religious freedom or belief; Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and opinion; Special Rapporteur on Torture; Special Rapporteur on right to education; Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; and Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.

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Jigme Gyatso's arrest warrant issued by the Public Security Bureau in Gannan Prefecture in Gansu Province. Obtained by TCHRD in February 2012.
Jigme Gyatso’s arrest warrant issued by the Public Security Bureau in Gannan Prefecture in Gansu Province. Obtained by TCHRD in February 2012.

In his first speech as the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein declared “courage is the first human virtue… The courageous individual is he or she who has nothing to wield but common sense, reason and the law, and is prepared to forfeit future, family, friends and even life in defence of others, or to end injustice.”

On the same day that High Commissioner Al Hussein opened the 27th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva with these strong words, Radio Free Asia reported that Jigme Gyatso of Labrang Monastery in Gannan (Tib: Kanlho) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province had been sentenced to five years in prison for “splittist activities.” This is the first news of Jigme Gyatso since the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) obtained a copy of Jigme Gyatso’s arrest warrant in February 2012. The arrest warrant was issued almost five months after Jigme Gyatso was arrested from his hotel room by 40 police officers.

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UNHCHR
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein replaced Navi Pillay as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) would like to welcome Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to the position of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which he assumed on Monday, 1 September.

High Commissioner Al Hussein comes to office when expectations for what the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) can do are high and the threat to human rights is growing. As High Commissioner Al Hussein’s predecessor, Ms. Navi Pillay, is the most powerful single voice advocating for human rights in the world and she was willing to confront politically powerful States, including China, over their human rights policies.

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